As we head into the winter months and spend more time indoors, it’s vital to get up to date on the seasonal flu vaccine, as well as COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. We’ve pulled together the latest information from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC), so you know where, when, and how to get the protection you need to stay healthy.
Before COVID-19, seasonal flu vaccination was the most important annual vaccination for most of us to get. According to the U.S. CDC, flu vaccination prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related provider visits each year. The CDC estimates that from 2019-2020, the flu vaccination prevented 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-associated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths.
The U.S. and Maine CDCs recommend that people six months and older get an annual flu vaccine as early in the fall as possible. If you haven’t already done so, call your primary care provider (PCP) or your local pharmacy to schedule your flu vaccination today. The good news is that Health Options makes the flu vaccine available at $0 cost-share to Members, and you can receive a flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 shot if you still need one.
Also, COVID-19 boosters are available to everyone aged 18 and older – just in time for holiday gatherings. The latest (CDC) booster recommendations are:
You can get your booster shot anywhere that provides the COVID-19 vaccine. You may hear directly from your healthcare provider about getting a booster, or you may contact the locations linked below for an appointment. Many locations also offer drop-in vaccinations with no appointment necessary.
For a final piece of vaccination news, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now widely available for individuals aged 5 and older throughout Maine. As the Delta variant continues to be a prominent strain, vaccination is the safest way to protect against severe illness in children and adults.
It’s also important to continue protecting unvaccinated children ages two and older, who should wear a mask in public spaces and around people with whom they do not live.
If you need help scheduling an appointment, or want to know if a site near you offers vaccinations without an appointment, call the Maine COVID-19 Community Vaccination Line at (888) 445-4111. You may also search for COVID-19 vaccine availability here: Maine vaccination sites.
Your health, well-being, and safety are our priorities. Please call our Member Services at (855) 624-6463 for more information about vaccines and other preventive care benefits.
You are cordially invited to join Health Options' 2021 Annual Member Meeting on Thursday, November 18, from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. via Zoom's online meeting platform.
Use this Health Options' 2021 Annual Member Meeting link to register and get the login details at Eventbrite.
Our 2021 meeting will cover Health Options' year in review, including fiscal updates, grant activity, improvements to plans and procedures, and the 2022 Board of Directors’ election results. We will be joined by two speakers: Tym Rourke, senior director at Third Horizon Strategies and former director at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and Leslie Clark, executive director of Portland Recovery Community Center (PRCC).
Tym and Leslie will discuss “The Other Epidemic: Escalating Substance Use Disorders in Maine and Beyond.” As the pandemic continues, it’s more important than ever to devote state, federal, and community-based resources to removing barriers to care and improving substance use treatment. Tym and Leslie will discuss their experiences working to provide greater access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
For questions about the meeting, contact Health Options Member Services, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., at (855) 624-6463.
And remember to let your voice be heard! All Health Options Members 18 years and older are eligible to vote in our board of directors’ election. Candidate biographies and voting instructions have already reached you by email or traditional mail. Voting ends November 5, 2021.